Smart Window Goes Clear Or Opaque In Seconds

A new smart window system for use in green homes and buildings can go from 100% opaque to almost completely clear in seconds. According to its creators, the new smart window overcomes previous drawbacks to such systems, including lower cost, long-term performance and non-toxic manufacturing processes.

Ho Sun Lim, Jeong Ho Cho, Jooyong Kim and Chang Hwan Lee... discovered that using a polymer, so-called "counterions" and a solvent such as methanol was an inexpensive and less harsh way to make a stable, robust smart window. It has the added advantage of being extremely tunable — quickly and easily switching from 100% opaque to almost completely clear in seconds.

"To our knowledge, such extreme optical switching behavior is unprecedented among established smart windows," the authors state. "This type of light control system may provide a new option for saving on heating, cooling and lighting costs through managing the light transmitted into the interior of a house."
(Physorg)


(Smart window details)

Smart windows that can reversibly alternate between extreme optical characteristics via clicking counteranions of different hydration energies were developed on glass substrates through the facile spray-casting of poly[2-(methacryloyloxy)ethyltrimethylammonium chloride-co-3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate]. The optical transmittance was either 90.9% or 0% over the whole spectral range when alternately immersed in solutions containing thiocyanate (SCN–) or bis(trifluoromethane)sulfonimide (TFSI–) ions, respectively. The extreme optical transitions were attributed to formation of microporous structures via the molecular aggregation of polyelectrolyte chains bearing TFSI– ions in methanol. Because the smart windows were either highly transparent toward or completely blocking of incident light upon direct counterion exchange, this kind of nanotechnology may provide a new platform for efficiently conserving on energy usage in the interior of buildings.
( Counterion-Induced Reversibly Switchable Transparency in Smart Windows )

SF fans may recall the polawindows from Frank Herbert's 1972 novel The Godmakers:

Orne returned to his room to change for dinner, stopped at the polawindow, which he tuned to clear transmission.

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